Keoki’s Paradise – Koloa, Hi (Kauai)

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While other restaurants in Kauai capitalize on ocean views, Keoki’s Paradise compensates for its shopping village location by making the grounds look like a tropical oasis, starting with the entrance’s tiki torches, rock waterfall, and benches for relaxing while you wait for your table.

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I’d suggest making reservations as this is a popular spot in Poipu, which is on the South Shore of the island where a lot of Kauai’s resorts can be found. (Meanwhile, the North Shore, with “The Descendants” tiki bar Tahiti Nui and the impressive shop Havaiki Oceanic & Tribal Art, is about an hour and change drive.)

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On the right is the Bamboo Bar, which offers a separate, somewhat limited menu but with additional cheaper offerings like sandwiches and fish and chips. There’s also live music and happy hour every day from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. with $5 appetizers, $6 tropical cocktails, and $4 draft beers including options from Kona Brewing Company and Hawai’i Nui Brewing.

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The restaurant has a lovely open-air setting with multiple levels of seating under soaring pavilion ceilings. The best seats in the house are the four-person booths under the thatched huts on the middle level or on the lower lanai where you can look out on the gardens and lagoon.

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Another option if you’d like to save a few bucks — and don’t mind early bird hours — is the Chef’s Sunset Menu (three courses for $20.95) served in the dining room everyday from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

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There are several “Island Traditions” tropical drinks designed to be made quickly for the masses. Their version of the Mai Tai ($8.50) consisted of orange, guava, passionfruit, gold rum, and a dark rum float — slight bonus points for serving it in a happy/sad tiki face glass. (If you want to go all out there’s the Poipu Pina presented in a “locally grown” pineapple.)

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White dinner rolls and pineapple carrot cinnamon muffins are delivered to the table. And since entrées are served with salad (Caesar, spinach with bacon dressing or Kauai greens with lilikoi vinaigrette) we didn’t find much need to order any appetizers.

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If you opt for seafood, you have a few choices of fish (mahi mahi, ono, ahi and opah) prepared in one of four styles: “Keoki’s Style” baked in a garlic, lemon and sweet basil glaze; herb grilled with mango cilantro salsa; Parmesan and herb crusted, sauteed with panko and served with lemon caper beurre blanc (above); and “Firecracker” baked in a spicy Southwestern glaze with black bean avocado relish. Our server had recommended the latter two for our opah ($29.95) and we weren’t disappointed with either.

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The carnivores in our group ordered the Koloa ribs with plum barbecue sauce ($24.95) and the teriyaki top sirloin marinated in shoyu and ginger, served with sour cream and chive mashed potatoes ($24.95).

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Keoki’s Paradise is part of the TS Restaurants group, which also owns Kimo’s and Leilani’s on Maui, and Duke’s in California and Hawaii, so you’ll find their signature Hula Pie on the menu. I decided to drink my dessert instead by getting the Frozen Mai Tai ($8.50). Made with passionfruit, vanilla ice cream, gold rum and a dark rum float, it was good though it strays even further from what Trader Vic intended. Why even call it a Mai Tai at this point?

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Is Keoki’s a tiki bar? No, not really. (There’s bamboo and thatch but no tikis aside from the glassware.) Is it a tourist trap? Yeah, but sometimes that’s part of the fun of going on vacation.

Keoki’s Paradise
Poipu Shopping Village
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr.
Koloa, HI 96756
808-742-7534

Related Posts:
Tahiti Nui Tiki Bar, Hanalei
Tiki Carver at the Westin, Princeville
The Ruins of Coco Palms from “Blue Hawaii”

Keoki's Paradise on Urbanspoon

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Not Just Food at Foodland…Tikis Too!

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While we were staying at the Westin on Kauai, the Foodland in Princeville was our go-to grocery store. Well, it’s really the only game in town, but they get big bonus points for all the different kinds of delicious poke they serve at the deli counter.

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Foodland also stocks products made from Hawaiian companies, including some that feature tikis in their designs, like Hawaiian Eateries Kon-Tiki salsas.

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Meanwhile, the label for Da Kine Hawaiian BBQ Sauce had sort of a tiki-pineapple hybrid. It reminded me of the pineapple jack ‘o lanterns tiki folks carve at Halloween.

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In the souvenir section I stumbled upon this tiny army of probably imported tiki figurines, keychains, bottle openers, frames and mugs. Nothing too notable about them, I was just a bit surprised to see so many.

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Then I turned around and saw these stickers from family-owned, Kauai-based company Tiki Toes. This stylized Ku is just one of their neat tiki designs — you can see several more on their web site.

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And how could you go to Hawaii without buying some chocolate covered macadamia nuts? Might as well pick the Hawaiian Host box with the big tiki on it.

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While not truly tiki, I also liked the Hawaiian-style Hello Kitty stuff they had, this cute coin purse most of all. Aloha, everybody, and Happy Friday!

Related Posts:
Shopping at Aloha from Hanalei
Tahiti Nui Tiki Bar, Hanalei, Kauai
Havaiki Oceanic & Tribal Art, Hanalei

A Walk Around the Ruins of the Coco Palms – Kauai

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An abandoned hotel wouldn’t normally be high on my sightseeing list, but the Coco Palms on Kauai was a notable exception. (Sidenote: I do actually find ghost town-type places kind of fascinating, like China’s haunting Wonderland amusement park or the now-demolished Nevada Landing, a riverboat hotel adrift in the desert near Vegas.)

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Behind that chainlink fence and ominous No Trespassing sign is what was once Kauai’s premier resort that played host to Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, who helped make it famous in a little film called “Blue Hawaii” in 1961.

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Through the overgrown trees I could see the lagoon from the romantic scene at the end of the movie where Elvis serenades his wahine with the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” as they float on a double-hulled canoe. (The web site ElvisInHawaii.com has some screen caps of that scene.) But the land’s importance goes back way before “The King” to Kauai’s actual kings — this was their ancestral homeland and the site of burial grounds and other sacred spots.

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So what happened to the Coco Palms? Twenty years ago, Hurricane Iniki hit the island, the hotel suffered damages and it’s been closed ever since. It’s easy to spot as you’re driving along Kuhio Highway in Wailua, north of the airport. Even in its decaying state, there are parts of it that are still captivating. It’s also kind of spooky to see lamps still in in the windows of some of the hotel rooms.

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Plans to build a new resort on the property seem to have fallen through, but Pacific Business News reports that the site has been sold to new investors. It seems inevitable that the original buildings will eventually be torn down, so I’m glad I got to see some of what’s left.

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I only checked out the outside area, but it is possible to get a closer look. Bob and Jerri Jasper, original founders of Hawaii Movie Tours, offer tours of the Coco Palms Monday through Friday at 1:45 p.m. for $20 per person. For more information, call 8-8-346-2048 or visit cocopalmstours.com. And apparently Coco Palms’ longtime entertainer Larry Rivera even coordinates “Blue Hawaii” themed weddings among the ruins.

Related Posts:
Tahiti Nui Tiki Bar, Hanalei, Kauai
Havaiki Oceanic & Tribal Art, Hanalei
Tiki Carver at the Westin Princeville, Kauai